Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

New Apartments For 1st and National

Plus: A rundown of affordable housing projects seeking financing and a recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Feb 12th, 2023 03:37 pm
100 E. National Ave. in 2021. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

100 E. National Ave. in 2021. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bear Development is the latest developer to attempt to construct an apartment building on a highly-visible vacant lot in Walker’s Point. It’s one of seven proposals vying for competitively awarded, low-income housing tax credits in Milwaukee and one of 48 statewide.

The credits are the most common tool used to create affordable housing in Wisconsin and require developers to set aside a pre-determined number of units at a discounted rate for those making no more than 60% (with few exceptions) of the area’s median income for a period of at least 15 years that is often extended to 30 years.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) released its annual list of applicants this week. Applications were due in January.

Bear applied for low-income housing tax credits to develop the 1.6-acre lot at 100 E. National Ave., which occupies the northeast corner of the intersection of S. 1st St. and E. National Ave. It would build a 91-unit building, with every unit set aside at below-market rates.

The Kenosha-based developer has successfully developed a number of tax-credit-supported apartment buildings, including the 49-unit 700 Lofts affordable apartment complex at 700 W. Michigan St. Across the street, Bear is now constructing Michigan Street Commons, a 99-unit building. The new building would be first structure constructed in the Iron District, of which Bear is the master developer.

The National Avenue site has been owned by Kelly Construction & Design since 2013. Developer Tim Dixon transferred the land to the firm to settle a debt associated with the construction of The Iron Horse Hotel. Dixon, who developed the adjacent National Avenue Lofts, once envisioned developing the site himself. It formerly held a warehouse.

Ohio-based Woda Cooper pursued a 90-unit, affordable apartment building at the site in 2019, but wasn’t successful in securing the competitively-awarded tax credits.

WHEDA uses an annual competitive process to award the credits, with an announcement often coming in April. Applications, like in past years, exceeded the amount of available federal credits.

Two different competitive grant programs exist. One provides a 9% federal tax credit and the other provides a 4% federal and 4% state income tax credit.

Developers leverage the credits, often selling them to institutional investors at a slight discount, to create equity. The credits offer a dollar-for-dollar reduction on income tax bills. The awards are made for 10 years, meaning a $1.2 million award turns into $12 million.

In 2022 developers only applied for four Milwaukee projects and none were successful in acquiring credits. Due to the fixed nature of the credits and rising construction costs, a number of projects from earlier years were delayed. Additional funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, distributed by both the city and state, has pushed many of those delayed projects to construction and the local backlog is now clearing.

Project List

Bronzeville Apartments

Historic Patterson Place

Vets Place Central

100 E National

  • Developer: Bear Development
  • Units: 96 (96 affordable)
  • Type: New construction – Non-profit
  • Credit Request: $2.46 million
  • Program: 4% State
  • Location: 100 E. National Ave.

CDA Scattered Sites MKE

Greenfield Ave Commons

Highland Gardens

  • Developer: Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee
  • Units: 114 (114 affordable)
  • Type: Acquisition Rehabilitation – Elderly
  • Credit Request: $1.92 million
  • Program: 4% State
  • Location: 1818 W. Juneau Ave.
  • Description: HACM applies annually, leveraging the credits to rehabilitate housing often built with earlier federal housing programs. The housing authority unsuccessfully sought credits for this project last year.

Full lists of the 4% and 9% credit applications are available on the WHEDA website.

Weekly Recap

Revitalize Milwaukee Plans Major Expansion

A nonprofit organization that specializes in making home repairs for low-income Milwaukee residents is working on a major expansion.

With $12 million in grant funding, Revitalize Milwaukee is adding lead abatement, asthma safety and energy efficiency improvements to its core mission of providing critical home repairs.

“This is a call to contractors, vendors, partners and funders to work with Revitalize Milwaukee to greatly elevate our services to improve the quality of life for so many homeowners in the community,” said CEO Lynnea Katz-Petted in a statement. “Together, we can rebuild entire neighborhoods.”

The organization reports new funding from the Milwaukee Health Department and Wisconsin Department of Health Services for lead abatement, the Public Service Commission‘s Energy Innovation Grant Program for weatherization services, the Department of Health Services for asthma education and trigger remediation services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for accessibility modifications for seniors and Kohl’s Hometown Giving Program for free, critical home repairs.

Read the full article

State Approves Its Half of Fiserv Subsidy

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) approved its half of the complicated subsidy agreement Thursday to bring financial technology services company Fiserv’s headquarters to downtown Milwaukee.

The company is eligible for up to $7 million in state income tax credits from WEDC if it creates 250 new jobs in Milwaukee and 72 other jobs across the state within five years, which would bring its total Wisconsin employment to 980.

In November, Fiserv, city and state officials announced a proposal to relocate the headquarters of the Brookfield-based company to the eight-story HUB640 building in Westown.

The state subsidy would be paired with a $7 million tax incremental financing (TIF) district subsidy the City of Milwaukee would provide from increased property revenue generated by the company’s relocation. The city also plans to use $4.6 million in incremental revenue from the development to make nearby public improvements.

Read the full article

City Approves Funding For $37.2 Million Library Redevelopment

The Milwaukee Common Council has done its part to build a long-sought replacement for the Milwaukee Public Library‘s Martin Luther King Library branch.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved the creation of a tax incremental financing (TIF) district and an associated land sale agreement to enable the long-sought, $37.2 million development. Construction, according to a financing agreement, is to begin by April 1.

The new library will be built at the corner of N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and W. Locust St. and continue the city’s successful model of replacing stand-alone libraries with new facilities located on the first floor of larger, tax-paying buildings.

Under the final plan, the new library will occupy approximately 17,000 square feet at the base of a four-story apartment building developed by Emem Group and General Capital Group. The 93-apartment proposal also includes the partial demolition and redevelopment of the Garfield Theatre to the north and the construction of a second new apartment building at the northern end of the block.

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Walmart Shuttering Silver Spring Drive Store

Walmart will close its store at Timmerman Plaza on Milwaukee’s far northwest side the retailer announced Wednesday.

The closure is expected to happen by March 10.

Newly-elected area alderman Mark Chambers, Jr. called it “terrible news” in a press release.

“It’s infuriating that such a massive, resource-rich, and wealthy Fortune 100 enterprise like Walmart cannot keep such an important location open,” said Chambers Jr. “The move not only negatively impacts shoppers, pharmacy customers and store workers, but I fear it will only add to the food desert issues that we are seeing in that area.”

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County Wants Ideas To Save Coggs Building

It’s possible the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center, 1220 W. Vliet St., won’t be torn down after all.

Milwaukee County has begun looking for proposals for the 212,000-square-foot building that has long served the county’s human services functions. It’s not soliciting projects; rather, there is an open call for redevelopment ideas called a Request for Information (RFI). This process acts as a potential precursor to a formal request for proposals from developers.

The county is planning the development of a new $42 million, 60,000-square-foot square foot, human services building just north of Coggs on W. Cherry St. between N. 12th St. and N. 13th St. That building is expected to be finished by late 2024 or early 2025. But the preliminary plans required the demolition of the Coggs building to create a parking lot. The outcome of this RFI could lead the county to alter these plans and potentially determine a new future for the Coggs building.

The county expects it will need approximately 250 parking spots for the new DHHS building. Currently, there are 127. “The County may demolish the Coggs building to provide the additional parking spots needed if there are no suitable and feasible ideas for redevelopment that also meet the county’s parking needs,” says the RFI. It asks any developer to suggest ideas, including using other nearby properties, to get to 250 spaces while maintaining the Coggs building.

Read the full article

Sixteenth Street Health Centers Adding a Pharmacy

Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (SSCHC) is adding a pharmacy to its clinic and headquarters at 1032 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. as part of an $8 million project.

“This pharmacy is critically important for the South Side of Milwaukee,” said Dr. Julie Schuller, president and CEO of SSCHC, in a press release. “It will make things much more convenient and affordable for patients to get all of their health care needs addressed in one place.”

The nonprofit health center operates a network of seven clinics on the city’s South Side and one in Waukesha. It seeks to provide care “free from linguistic, cultural and economic barriers.”

The pharmacy will be built on the site of a two-story commercial building at 1016-1018 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. SSCHC acquired the property for $200,000 in 2022 from El Rey Enterprises and will demolish the structure. The building was constructed in 1923 according to assessment records and, with the buildings to its north, won a 2018 Mayor’s Design Award for facade improvements.

Read the full article

Council Approves Vape Shop Moratorium

You won’t be able to open an electronic cigarette or vape store in Milwaukee until at least August.

The Common Council unanimously approved a six-month moratorium on approving occupancy permits for such businesses Tuesday. It’s a precursor to a potential licensing or land-use framework where the location of such stores could be restricted.

“We are taking a very short break on this particular issue in order to collect ourselves, come up with the precise and appropriate legislation for long-term resolutions and protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents,” said lead sponsor Alderman Jonathan Brostoff. “This is an item that has a track record of targeting our children.”

After concerns were expressed last week about the legality of such a proposal, City Attorney Tearman Spencer and Deputy City Attorney Todd Farris issued a written legal opinion that the proposal was legal and enforceable under the city’s “police powers” to protect resident health, safety and welfare.

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New Mass Timber Building Could Be Tallest in U.S.

Milwaukee is home to the tallest mass timber building in the world. And now a developer is proposing to build something even taller.

A revised version of The Edison apartment tower would rise 28 stories at a riverfront site along E. State St. It would eclipse the 25-story Ascent tower.

Unfortunately for Milwaukee’s place in the records books, The Edison is not likely to be the tallest mass timber building in the world when completed.

That’s because a new building in Sydney, Australia is already under construction and would claim the distinction. Other projects are also under development. Mass timber, an engineered product often made by combining layers of lumbers to create a stronger material, is growing popularity and developers are seeking to use it to build taller and taller buildings.

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Predatory Landlords Buying Up Milwaukee Properties

For the past 10 years and especially throughout the pandemic, predatory investors have been crowding out would-be homebuyers in Milwaukee.

Housing advocates say this phenomenon hurts not only low- to moderate-income homebuyers, but renters and ultimately neighborhoods as well.

“Looking back at what made Milwaukee special, it was homeownership,” said Wyman Winston principal consultant for Neighborhood Wealth and former executive director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, or WHEDA. “As homeowners left, we saw the quality of housing leave along with the physical and economic decline of neighborhoods.”

A series of reports produced in the last few years associate investor-owned rental properties with poorer maintenance, higher health risks and higher eviction rates when compared to those with homeowners and local landlords.

Read the full article

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